Have Mercy ... {CPR and Parenting Wars} ~ The Grace Between

Have Mercy … {CPR and Parenting Wars}

My dear friends … I have a story to tell you. It’s difficult for me to tell because I must admit my mistake and that is a hard thing even for this admitted over-sharer. I debated much over the past few weeks, but here it is … for two reasons, which I will share with you at the end.

Wee Man almost drowned in a pool last month.

There were six adults watching all the children. We were obsessively counting kids all day. I was teaching him how to swim. Up until the moment he stepped off the ledge to swim to the side, he had a healthy fear of the deep end and stayed far from it. I thought we were doing everything right.

But my brave boy decided he COULD swim to the side. He told me later, “I kicked, Mommy! But I couldn’t reach the floor.” And in the moments he decided to be brave, two other children started coughing and choking on lunch. We all turned at once to the babies, our attention caught. And when Second Son was fine, and calm, I took him from my cousin and turned to count for the Wee Man.

He was limp and unmoving at the bottom. A terrifying, still blue shape next to the edge. I screamed and screamed. I put Second Son on the concrete, still screaming. In those seconds, my cousin pulled him up and handed him to my sister. I saw his eyes open and his body unmoving and I was undone.

I thought my baby was dead or dying and I couldn’t watch it.

Someone told me I was saying “This can’t happen, this can’t happen.”

Truthfully, I don’t physically remember much of what I am telling you in the sequence of events.  Most of this was pieced together after the fact. In the unfolding, I was blacking out most of the details, consumed by the image of my son in the pool.

My sister ran to my other cousin, fearful because she didn’t know CPR, didn’t know what to do in that moment. My cousin pressed on his chest and he started breathing immediately, and then crying and asking for a towel. I didn’t see this either, because I was sobbing, curled up in a ball against the garage wall.

I couldn’t watch him die. For five seconds? I thought I let my baby die. Nothing I have ever faced was worse than the moments with my forehead pushed into the stucco, my arms physically holding me together while my world shattered.

When they put him in my arms … inhaling, exhaling … crying a little, I held him, still sobbing, now out of relief, and still a lot of fear. There were other things to consider now, lack of oxygen, and dry drowning. He was blue-ish around the lips and more than a little sleepy.

The rest of the details are unnecessary. His color returned, but we still called 911, and they held him overnight for observation at Scottish Rite Children’s hospital in Atlanta. There were zero negative physical effects. No water in his lungs or stomach … nothing. He is not traumatized in the least by it, probably because it was a deliberate attempt at swimming. In fact, we believe he just held his breath too long trying to get to the side.

It took less than a minute of me being distracted for this to happen. Me, who thought I was doing everything right. Me, who does know CPR and puts sunscreen on my children … and would die for them. 

Praise God we saw him in time. Praise God for His mercy in preserving his life and the spark that makes him the Wee Man. I spent 24 hours snuggling him in a hospital bed marveling at his life, and what a gift it is. Praise God for giving the Husband a midnight mission, which meant he was awake at 4 pm Atlanta time and wanted to talk. Praise God for a Husband who was gracious and loving when I crumbled in the stark light of the ER, sobbing when I told him I almost lost our baby.

So why, again, do I tell you this.

{one} Every parent person should know CPR. No exceptions. So friends? Take a CPR course now. Right now. I will be re-taking the course this month. My sister will be taking it for the first time, and is gathering friends to do the same. There is no excuse for not having the tools to help save a life.


{two} In the days surrounding the incident, the impossibly tragic phenomenon of children being forgotten in hot cars was the topic of conversation everywhere … in the news, among friends,  overtaking social media. {For a thoughtful, nuanced read on the subject, go here.} I could barely stomach the conversations … for those five seconds, I was almost a version of those parents, a mother who let their baby die. It physically hurts, even now, to type that.

The other day, I was watching Wee Man carefully line his “monies” up on the leather ottoman, and I had a nauseating flashback to his lifeless body at the bottom of an impossibly blue pool. And those five seconds, they come over me like a wave of otherworldly “what-ifs” and that, my friends, is the second reason I am  telling you this story and preaching grace and compassion in the midst of the unholy flame wars that parenting can become.

IMG_3306That is why I am asking you ~ before anytime you engage ~ for on-your-tear-streaked-face prayers before a still-Righteous, still-Holy Father who works in ways that are incomprehensible to us. We, the body of Christ, we bear one anothers’ burdens. 

Parenting wars are ugly, and we crucify each other over a laundry list of lesser offenses, secure in our self-righteous knowledge that we are doing it the most right. Or at least better  than those people over there and everywhere. Can I tell you one of the heart-wrenching lessons I learned last month. It could have been me. It could be you tomorrow.

There is enough vitriol in the self-righteous fury of the internet to bury us all … be a life raft of mercy, of forgiveness, and still, of faith.

And take CPR. 


{My super babe-my heart is so grateful for him.}

Linking up to Five Minute Friday … and clearly this took longer than five minutes, but have grace … the prompt is exhale, and it was all I needed to spill this out. Plus, you should all take CPR. 


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